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Marriage, Work and Migration: The Role of Infrastructure Development and Gender Norms

November 8, 2018

Kuala Lumpur World Bank-University of Malaya Joint Seminar

  • Traditional gender norms can restrict independent migration by women, thus preventing them from taking advantage of economic opportunities in urban non-agricultural industries. However, women may be able to circumvent such restrictions by using marriage to engage in long-distance migration - if they are wealthy enough to match with the desirable migrating grooms. Guided by a model in which women make marriage and migration decisions jointly, we hypothesize that marriage and labour markets will be inextricably linked by the possibility of marital migration. To test our hypotheses, we use the event of the construction of a major bridge in Bangladesh – which dramatically reduced travel time between the economically deprived north-western region and the industrial belt located around the capital city Dhaka – as a source of plausibly exogenous variation in migration costs. In accordance with our model’s predictions, we find that the bridge construction induced marriage-related migration (not economic migration) among rural women, but only for those women coming from families above a poverty threshold.

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  • Zaki Wahhaj

    Zaki Wahhaj is a Reader in Economics at the University of Kent. He is a Development Economist with research interests in gender, household-decisioning and informal institutions. He obtained a PhD in Economics from MIT. Following his PhD, he spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Centre for Research in Economic Development (CRED) at the University of Namur, Belgium and three years as lecturer in development economics at the Department of International Development (ODID), University of Oxford. He joined the University of Kent in 2012.


  • WHEN: Thursday, November 8, 2018; 12:30-2:00PM
  • WHERE: DK4, Block H11, Faculty of Economics and Administration, University of Malaya
  • RSVP: Kindly RSVP by Wednesday, November 7, 2018